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High Court to Review Key Internet Access Case

Dec 3, 2004  •  Post A Comment

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to review a case that could determine whether cable operators will be required to open their broadband networks to competing Internet service providers.

In the so-called “Brand X” case decision at issue, a federal appeals court threw out Federal Communications Commission regulations that affirmed cable’s right to deny competing ISPs access to cable’s networks.

In a statement, Robert Sachs, president and CEO of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, said, “We are pleased by the Supreme Court’s decision to review this significant case and are optimistic that the court will affirm the FCC’s decision that cable modem service is an interstate information service, fostering a deregulatory environment for cable high-speed Internet access.”

Added FCC Chairman Michael Powell, “High-speed Internet connections are not telephones, and I’m glad the Supreme Court has agreed to review the ninth circuit’s [federal appeals court’s] ruling that they are.”

But Andrew Schwartzman, president of the activist Media Access Project, said watchdog group representatives are disappointed that the high court has agreed to consider the federal government’s appeal. “The outcome of this case will — quite literally — determine the future of the Internet as we know it. The right of citizens to send and receive any content over the Internet depends on rules which allow them to take full advantage of the open architecture of the Internet. If the Supreme Court rules against Internet open access, cable companies will be able to block content at will for political or financial reasons, and deny the public the ability to choose among competing Internet providers.”